There are three films that deserve a massive share of audiences, and yes, critical acclaim. Two of them, are currently motion pictures in competition in the annual Metro Manila Film Festival, Jun Lana’s Big Night and Carlo Francisco Manatad’s Kun Maupay Man It Panahon. The third one, is a coming soon full-length feature attraction, Joel Lamangan’s Walker.
The trio con brio of Lana, Manatad, and Lamangan gives us cinema that not only pokes, it also pierces the heart and acts as a slap so forceful it stings our collective faces. They show to us all the potency, power, and the why and wherefore of cinema, being one of the seven major arts.
Lana’s Big Night screams why “story is king” is an important ingredient to a film. The many realities that we have considered routine and gossip fare – killing in broad daylight, the power-tripping of those who see themselves as high and mighty, innocence lost when faced to choose between the devil and the deep blue sea, and the sad truth that at times, one must and should learn how to swim with the sharks, to ensure survival – are all masterfully depicted in this societal and political film commentary.
What Lana’s film wants us to do, is to wake up from our stupor and bear the reality they can no longer afford to look the other way. It is high time to take a stand and the apathy that we are in, is not what this throbbing democracy needs.
Adding gravitas to the Lana-helmed and written MMFF entry are the top-notch performances of its ensemble. The apparent artifice of Eugene Domingo as the barangay kapitana. The scene-stealing John Arcilla as a former action superstar who cannot let go of his glory days. Janice de Belen as the barangay’s midwife who with valid arguments. The lovable Ricky Davao who loves his gay children to bits for as long as they protect their family’s name and honor, Nico Antonio as the aging macho dancer paramour who is clueless about current events and whose main dream is to just win a title and of course, Christian Bables, as Dharna, the beautician of the barangay who experiences the worst day of his life after knowing that his birth name is on the drug-addicts watch list. Bables showed to everyone why it hurts more when we all laugh and yes, hell is indeed brought about by other people.
Manatay’s Kun Maupay Man It Panahon is more painful to watch since the super typhoon Odette recently ravaged major cities and provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Manatad’s declares: “I feel it is important to discuss the reality of natural calamities in this generation we are in. A lot has been said about Filipino resilience especially in the wake of disasters— both natural and otherwise—to the point that it has become cliché.”
He adds: “Major typhoons have been happening more often so Odette’s occurrence comes as no surprise… I think I speak on behalf of my co-filmmakers when I say that climate change and disaster preparedness are the more urgent issues. These should be addressed by everyone and not be ‘masked’ or neglected by the sentimentality of resilience.”
Playing leads in this cinematic replication of how nature reminds us all that she is queen, as mother and her kids who lived the horrors and the outcome of a super typhoon are the first lady of Philippine cinema, Charo Santos-Concio, superstar Daniel Padilla and newcomer Rans Rifol.
Yolanda that happened eight years ago and now that Odette transpired, what remains – disaster preparedness is only good on paper. Efforts to relocate people living near water areas continue to be problematic. Serious reforestation efforts and mangroves seeding in coastal areas were not prioritized. Sturdy housing and shelter are all empty promises.
Lamangan’s Walker, will have its international festival circuit run next year. Amongst the three, it is unapologetic and brazen. It depicts “men in authority and in uniform” as the root cause of all evil. True, there are conscientious, hard-working policemen who serve and protect the public.
The amoral ones are the antagonists in this Troy Espiritu written film and how they dominated and doomed the many characters in the movie bring the chills and fear.
What makes “Walker” a stirring and puts you on the edge of your seat kind of viewing, are superlative, playing for truth performances of Allen Dizon, Jim Pebanco, Rita Avila, David Bornea, and the Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon of the millennial generation, Edgar Allan Guzman and Elora Espano. Big Night, Kun Maupay Man It Panahon, and Walker, yes they are the definitive examples of truthful cinema.